How The Tennents
Relate to the
Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
The father William Tennent (1673-1746) started the Log College as an evangelistic alternative to anti-revival Yale and Harvard. When George Whitefield was apposed by the Old Lights, the Tennents gave him hope. Whitefield said of the Log College, “From this despised place seven or eight worthy ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth; more are almost ready to be sent, and the foundation is now laying for the instruction of many others…he and his sons are secretly despised by the synod generally…as the Methodist preachers are by the brethren in England."
The reason the Tennents and the Log College was despised by the Old Lights is they promoted a supernatural view of regeneration and religious affections. Here is Whitefield’s description of the activity of the Holy Spirit on a crowd of 3,000 assembled by Tennent: “At first the people seemed unaffected, but in the midst of my discourse the power of the Lord Jesus came upon me, and I felt such a struggling within myself for the people as I scarce ever felt before; the hearers began to be melted down immediately and to cry much, and we had good reason to hope the Lord intended good for many.”
Alexander wanted the Princeton of 1838 to be seen as the heir of the Log College of 1738 without the embarrassing “enthusiasm” of religious affections. He said, “The Presbyterian Church is probably not more indebted for her prosperity, and for the evangelical spirit which has generally pervaded her body, to any individual than to the elder Tennent."
The first born son Gilbert Tennent (1703- 1764) helped bring about the division of the Presbyterian Church in 1741 (according to Alexander) when he preached his "Nottingham Sermon", described by Alexander as "one of the most severely abusive sermons that were ever penned”. Gilbert pastored a New Light Presbyterian church after the split from the Old Lights.
The second born son William Tennent, Jr, (1705-1777) pastored the Presbyterian church of his brother John (see below) after he died, but is most remembered for his description of a three day trance, something Scottish Common Sense Realists (and most modern American Christians because of the re-writing of American history) would dismiss or ridicule as “enthusiasm”. Readers who think “Charismatic Chaos” started with the Azusa Street Revival are woefully ignorant of the supernatural basis of the Great Awakenings and the great divide between American New Light Calvinism and Scottish Common Sense Realism. Please read the Life of the Rev. William Tennent, Including his Three Day Trance. I agree with the sentiment of that book: “The writer will only ask, whether it be contrary to the revealed truth, or to reason, to believe, that in every age of the world instances like that which is here recorded have occurred, to furnish living testimony of the reality of the invisible world, and of the infinite importance of eternal concerns.”
The third born son John Tennent (1706-1732), pastored a Presbyterian church which experienced dramatic religious affections in the First Great awakening.
The fourth born son Charles Tennent ( )
The reader can find additional information in the Life of the Rev. William Tennent, Including his Three Day Trance and The Log College.